The course was designed to update coaches on the new FISA Coach Education Framework with the specific focus being on safety and safeguarding as well as anti-doping education.
Coaches came from a global background and included former Olympians and Olympic medallists. London Olympic gold medallist from South Africa, Lawrence Sizwe Ndlovu was there along with twice Olympic bronze medallist, Laryssa Biesenthal of Canada. Argentina, Paraguay, Slovenia, Tunisia, Italy, Iran, France and a number of other nations were also represented in a who’s who line up of former Olympians.
The focus on safety came from concerns raised around participants in the sport not always having an understanding of swim safety and what to do in a capsize situation.
“The decision was made to emphasise safety in all activities,” says FISA Development Director Sheila Stephens Desbans. “We want the National Rowing Federations to take more ownership of this area. But we also saw that coaches need to be more informed and feel able to enforce procedures around this area as well as risk assessment.”
The emphasis on safeguarding comes with the implementation of FISA’s safeguarding policy. “We wanted the FISA development coaches to be better informed so that they in turn can better inform the coaches, athletes and officials they work with on a regular basis,” says Stephens Desbans.
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“These coaches will be helping to lead activities globally for FISA going forward. Almost all have already been involved in activities supported by Olympic Solidarity,” says Stephens Desbans who noted the important partnership of working with the National Olympic Committees and Olympic Solidarity to make rowing development possible worldwide.
“This Academy was an important step for the FISA Development Programme to stay current with changing trends in coaching but also the overall responsibilities and engagement that go along with being a coach,” says Stephens Desbans. “Many of the theoretical materials from the past are still relevant but the practical application and how this is being delivered is changing. We know that many good systems already exist and we are trying to learn and bring together the best of these models but keep it realistic in the development setting.”
Next up for the FISA Development Programme is working with each of the continental groups to receive more mentoring for the delivery of courses. There is also work being done on translating manuals into languages other than English and developing coaching information for para-rowing and coastal rowing.